Terror in Vegas strikes home

Terror in Vegas strikes homeBy REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

As our nation mourns the most deadly mass shooting in modern history, community residents are left stunned by the near misses witnessed by scores of local citizens who were on the scene of Sunday’s tragedy in Las Vegas.

Around 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, country music artist Jason Aldean was performing at the open-air Route 91 Harvest music festival on the strip. From the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock — an apparently well-off retiree with no criminal history — opened fire into a crowd of 30,000.

He reportedly continued his attack for 10 minutes as concertgoers and performers slowly realized what was happening. While many in the crowd managed to self-mobilize and get to safety, the incident left 59 dead and more than 520 injured.

Early Monday morning, social media feeds were saturated by people trying to account for their loved ones, including many locals in attendance at the concert.

One local family was standing next to a man who was killed by gunfire. Another family, who decided not to go at the last moment, learned after the fact that their friends were among the wounded. One former resident, now living in Vegas, expressed anxiety about going to work that day for fear of seeing who might not show up.

In Kern County hundreds were listed among those on site at the concert. Several were killed. Others lie in critical condition from injuries sustained.

“Our community is shaken and deeply saddened by the senseless violence against our innocent neighbors,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who learned that three of his constituents were among the dead.

“Judy and I are praying for each victim and their families during this tragic time. These horrifying times lead us to God for solace as we try to understand how such inhuman acts can happen. As this situation continues to develop, may God bless our country as we all mourn and search for healing.”

“I pray with our nation for the victims and families affected by the terrible act of evil that occurred in Las Vegas,” said state Sen. Jean Fuller. “This is a horrible tragedy that has impacted people and communities across our nation … I am thankful for the first responders who heroically put their lives at risk to assist victims and worked to locate and eliminate the threat.”

“Words cannot describe how heartbroken I am about the tragedy in Las Vegas,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

“This act of evil has no place in our society and among our families. I hope everyone will join me in sending prayers and support to those who lost their loved ones, to those who are recovering, to those who were in attendance and to local law enforcement and first-responders.”

Amid the flood of messages expressing solidarity were those calling for stricter gun laws and enforcement, in order prevent a single person from amassing so destructive an arsenal.

Others — noting the shooter’s prescription for a controversial psychotropic drug — asked how those with mental health issues might be barred from access to guns and given more adequate support for their issues.

Perhaps the most disturbing line of questions, however, came from those observing a trend in acts of violence on this scale coming from those who, apparently, are making deliberate and conscious decisions to reign terror in public spaces.

How, if that is someone’s objective, can we protect ourselves? And what can we expect to happen next?

In the face of such horror, many are still pointing to the glimmers of hope and heroism in the face of danger — the first-responders who rushed in to dissolve the threat, the citizens who became human shields to protect their loved ones, the bystanders who organized themselves to remove victims from the danger zone.

McCarthy was among those who traveled to Vegas in the days that followed to meet victims and responders.

“Our community has felt tremendous pain over the past several days, but through that pain we have come together to honor and celebrate the lives of those who have left us too soon,” he said.

“I was humbled to share these memories directly with the president,” who traveled with McCarthy on Wednesday.

“He expressed his deepest sympathies and that he stands with the families and our community. As our neighbors continue to recover, we pray to heal this pain.”

Pictured: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pictured aboard Air Force One with President Donald Trump, traveled to Las Vegas on Wednesday to visit with first-responders and survivors of Sunday’s attack. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-10-06